No Independence, No Romance

The universal principle found in the Bible that “a man shall leave his father and mother and cling/cleave to his wife” (Genesis 2:24) is beyond a gender thing.
It is safer to see the man there as generic. See him as Adam (male and female created Him them – Genesis 1:27, 5:1-2). And to enjoy a great relationship and marriage, see the wife in the scripture to mean spouse and not just female/women. It is proper to allow the scripture sound like “therefore shall a person leave his father and mother and cleave to his or her spouse.” Interestingly, Under most customs, including the traditional Jewish custom, it is actually the woman that moves from her family and takes a position in her husband’s family and this is what we also see in many African customs.

Before considering romance, you must be independent. This is irrespective of your gender. You ought to have been making life-changing decisions on your own and facing the consequences alone; dealing and handling it effectively, without having to call for help before you start considering romance.

For many of us young people, we have never made suggestions or dare give an opinion concerning things that affect us and when it comes to romance, we are all of a sudden angry that our older siblings and parents wouldn’t let us be. Well, they have always known you to be dependent for almost everything. So why should they just give you independence all of a sudden because of one girl or one guy?

Sometimes, it’s good to rebel, and be stubborn; if not, your older siblings would never allow you be, so also your parents. I remember when my brothers complained that my sister should still stay at home for one year that she wasn’t yet mature enough to get into the university. I fought it as their eldest brother with all I had simply because I saw that it wasn’t necessarily about age or maturity. It was about control and dominance. And I knew that if it continued,  being the last born and only girl,  they would later dictate the kind of job she can do or not,  the city  she can live in or not,  the course she must study or not,  the person she marries or not, and when she can marry or not.

That’s it! Control and dominance is like abuse. Protection is proper, but the control of an adult is abuse. It’s not funny that there are many persons who are forming big boys in this (Romance Café Whatsapp) group and all over us, who are in reality (outside Social Media) Mummy’s boys and brother’s girls. I know a girl that, even as an undergraduate in the university, the dad was still locking them up in the house. They all went to church together in the car and sat in the same pew. She travelled on bike for about an hour to campus because dad wouldn’t let them stay in the hostel or take an apartment around campus. I knew a dude too, whose mother almost literally dictated the boxer shorts he wore; and this was after his NYSC year.

It may have started with love, from the stand point of love: the need to provide security and protection over one’s child. But every adult deserves to be independent. Have you noticed that the people who try to dictate to you and control you wouldn’t allow another person do the same to them? That’s why it isn’t love, but abuse.

So to have a mind of your own, independent of family and friends when it comes to romance, you must have, over the years, shown family and friends that you are an adult. And one way to do that is to be earning; pay your bills and support your family. If possible, move out. I remember a distant cousin some  few years ago who, after the dad had given other people in the family wahala, told him that she wanted a Statutory Wedding at the Marriage Registry only (no customary marriage, no church wedding). She is a lawyer and her dad had insisted she threw a big traditional wedding ceremony. She just told the man that she is not going to do a traditional or church wedding and that since the dad didn’t want a parlour traditional wedding, he could come to the Marriage Registry and get the bride price from the marriage Registrar. The man quickly  “kowtowed”. Hehehehehe.

It is very important to know how much independence you have. When parents and siblings still control how you spend your money, you aren’t independent. When they still control who can be your friend or not, you are not independent. When they can still control how you behave at work with your colleagues and respond to your boss, then you are obviously still dependent on them.

Some even stop their younger ones or their children from going to work on some days. You aren’t independent when you can’t change church or job (even when you live in another city) without your parents’ or older siblings’ consent. You are not independent when you can’t visit your friends, and sleep over, or travel a long distance for days for a friend’s wedding. You aren’t independent when you finished NYSC and they insist you must come back home and you really do. You aren’t independent!

I am not saying that you should be disobedient. I am saying that it is okay for you to rebel once in a while. Be stubborn small. That’s how most nations got their independence. People that have been used to dictating and directing you wouldn’t find it normal to lose that control. Their refusal to give up control over you even when you have become an adult is what makes the love turn into abuse.

My dad wasn’t all that controlling, but there were some powers he tried holding over me for too long. However, the moment I showed him reasons, he gave up the powers. My parents also felt it was falling hand for you as a pupil to get an after-school job. They felt it meant they couldn’t provide or take care of you. So they stopped me from pushing wheelbarrow in the market after school. But I just wanted to work and earn my own coins.

Some of the early rebellion that gave me this independence included refusing to wear pant underwear as a kid. There was nothing my mum didn’t do. My dad still laughed at me this month (July, 2017) that this is why my penis is shaped as a rod rather than as a banana. (Pants – and briefs – are actually the main thing that gives the penis the banana shape.) Another rebellion was that I refused to attend a mixed sex school. I refused to stay in the boarding house despite all my mother’s English. Then I started failing deliberately in my science, social science and commercial subjects so that my only professional course option to study in the university as an art class student would be law. If my kids become like me ehn, and I am still this stubborn, I will cry o. So I am learning to give up control over them, early.

Now, these levels of independence made it possible for me as a teenager to be able to organize my first sex and relationship event at 17. I started after-school work by force. Today, all my younger siblings were supported, encouraged and allowed to do after-school work because the family benefited from my earnings. Most times, it takes one person to break others free from parental control.

When I got to campus, I changed church. It was terrible. My dad had made people who weren’t members of CGM (Benson Andrew Idahosa’s Ministry) to attend CFI on campus but this dude chose Word of Life (Ayo Oritsejafor’s Ministry). However, when he started seeing good fruits, he relaxed and talked about the fellowship to my younger brother who also attended the school; he (my brother) later became a two time leader. I thought I was independent and until I heard a guy say something in a conference during my second year on campus. He said, and I paraphrase “many people are not in this conference because their parents did not allow them to come. They didn’t allow them because they did not want to provide the money. So instead of saying “no money”, or “Why should I put my money into this conference?”, they said, “don’t go.”

Some of you can’t carry the hairstyle you want because your mom is the one paying for it. He who pays the piper, dictates the tune. I needed more financial independence. So I resolved that although my dad always gave me money for school, I will never ask him for money again beyond my school fees and accommodation. I wouldn’t even ask for money for my books. I did sha, but only twice in 5 years, and I never asked any family member or friend for money for the years in school. Even at Law School, I only asked for money once; whatever  the amount given was, I made it sufficient with God’s help. And I suffered for this decision. I would have had all I wanted on campus, but because I didn’t want to ask, I couldn’t get many books, clothes etc. In fact, it was only once I even asked a family member to support the Alright’s Passion. I usually sourced the money from everywhere. I dreamed of having a big programme on Campus themed “Parade of Beautiful Virgins” to prove that virginity wasn’t for ugly people and that it wasn’t a lack of opportunity to have sex. I couldn’t because I couldn’t raise the money. Years later, my dad said if I had asked, he would have granted the money. This is one of those things I lost because I wanted to be dependent on me and God. Well, I got more benefits than the things I lost though.

I know many of you here who are still single because although you are an adult, your parents or siblings refused your choice because they didn’t like her or him. And you forgot it’s your choice, not theirs; it’s your spouse, not theirs. And they didn’t even allow you that control when they were choosing theirs (those older siblings most especially).

Some of you are jobless because although you are an adult, your family didn’t allow you stay back after NYSC. For some of you, your parents refused you to learn carpentry, tailoring, hairdressing, etc. Some of you are broke because they wouldn’t allow you sell recharge cards or be an okada rider. Here’s my advice, so that you don’t become a problem to your fiancé(e) or spouse in the future,  stop thinking about romance for now. Break free. Break out. So in your mind, let that scripture sound like “therefore shall a person leave his father and mother and cleave to his or her spouse.”

God bless Nigeria. (Good people, great nation.)

My name is Earl and I am Alright.

P.S. – This article is a collaboration of notes used at the Romance Café WhatsApp group.